Sunday, 14 October 2012

CAM Module

FreeCAD CAM Module.  Take 2:

After a fair bit of discussion through the Google Docs, Blog Entries, Forum Posts and ofcourse some IRC chatting Ideas we have pushed again and started the CAM 2 Module. Perhaps it's incorrect to say CAM2 but we are definitely putting the new source files in a new folder since we are essentially starting from scratch. We have even been blessed with a new subheading on the FreeCAD forums.

Objectives for this Module:

Essentially we aim to integrate the whole CAM workflow into FreeCAD.  The tool algorithms are developed  already in many libraries and are already useful but there is no practical integration within FreeCAD.

Secondary Objective : To cut out Sliptonic's spider!

The rough workings of CAM from a newbie:

The module will take your 3D Part within FreeCAD as the primary input. We provide a set process this with tooling algorithms which generates machine instructions (tool paths) known as GCODE. These are post-processed manually by the user and can be visualised within FreeCAD to check for any problems. We are basing a lot of the design on the work already achieved by HeeksCNC.

CAM in this Module will be a subtractive process -we remove material from a piece of Stock - such as sheet of steel by a series of operations. Each operation will be generated by a TPG - a Tool Path Generator. These are plugins which can be written in c++, python perhaps other languages and use their own algorithms to generate paths for the CAM Machine to remove material. These TPGs aim to be flexible, so we can call a  process to proprietary application allow this to do the hard work and then import it back into FreeCAD, but this process being entirely transparent. 

How I fit into this:

The strangest experience with this side project is that I have very little practical knowledge and experience working with CAM so I am very reliant on the wisdom of our CAM experts who have set up their requirements and how the perceive it working within FreeCAD. This is what makes it interesting in respect but also a difficult task. It is good practice working in an environment like this because I still yet to find a job that involves team work at such level haha.

My role in this project is to try and build up the basic FreeCAD infrastructure and then this will allow the other developers such as awallin, arobinson, dfalck to work on this independently, integrating the tools in.

Additionally work to build an awesome GUI interface into this ofcourse!